Vinci Det. Ray Velcoro (
Ray thought he was a goner after being shot twice while examining the apartment where City Manager Ben Caspere cavorted with hookers. Ben was torture-murdered there, possibly in connection with a land scheme.
Fortunately for Ray, his attacker fired rubber buckshot that cops use to disperse rioters. Ray survives, therefore, with cracked ribs and a fierce conviction to reboot his troubled life.
"You walked me into something," Ray stridently informs Frank, who provided the address of Ben's creepy hideaway. Turns out the place was leased for Ben by the Catalyst Group, a team of investors snapping up property adjacent to a $68-billion rail project.
"Are you going to tell me what Caspere was doing with you?" Ray fumes. "Or do I wait to walk into another dark room, this time with real bullets?"
What Ben did was take $5 million from Frank, supposedly to buy land near the rail line. But Ben's dead, the money's gone and Frank's determined to find answers – especially after one of his men, Stan (Ronnie Gene Blevins), is whacked.
Among the suspects is Osip Agronov (Timothy V. Murphy), a Russian mobster described as half anaconda and half great white shark. Osip intended to partner with Frank on a land purchase but now that seems unlikely.
Another shady character is Danny Santos (Pedro Miguel Arce). He runs an escort service that furnished Ben with European call girls.
"Put the word out," Frank sternly orders Danny and his posse. "Any john you rob, any flea, any tick crawls across your carpet, you ask them about Ben Caspere. You find out who wants what's mine!"
Danny's not intimidated, however, dismissively telling Frank he "ain't a thing no more." Frank brutally disagrees as he pummels Danny and yanks out his gold teeth.
Searching for Ben’s killer in a far more civilized manner are Det. Ani Bezzerides (
Since Ben's phone records list numerous late-night calls to Vinci Mayor Austin Chessani (Ritchie Coster), Ani and Paul visit the city official's Bel-Air mansion without a warrant. But the mayor's boozy wife Veronica (Agnes Olech) doesn't reveal much, nor does his druggie son Tony (Vinicius Machado).
Austin grows livid when he hears about Ani's intrusion, yelling at Ray that "I want her badge!"
Austin also insists that the state's criminal probe into corruption at Vinci City Hall will surely fail. But Ray must do his part by steering Ani and Paul toward suspicious prostitutes and away from Ben's secret land deals.
And Ray must conceal his own dirty deeds from state police.
The homicide investigators catch a break when traffic camera footage identifies a Cadillac that transported Ben's mutilated corpse to Ventura County. The car was taken from a movie set in Vinci.
While Paul pursues the hooker angle, Ani and Ray question Tommy Peru (J. Francisco Rodriguez), a former driver for the film company. Suddenly the stolen Cadillac bursts into flames nearby as a masked, black-clad figure runs from the scene.
Ani is so focused on her foot pursuit that she doesn't see a truck speeding in her direction. Luckily for Ani, Ray pulls her to safety at the last moment.
"Thank you," Ani gasps.